I’ve been meaning to make this for a while. Opéra cake is my mum’s absolute favourite cake, but she’s never been able to find a gluten-free version that wasn’t really disappointing. I knew I could make one, but with so many layers it seemed like a bit of a daunting task…However, last weekend it was my mum’s birthday, and I decided to take on the challenge. I was surprised at how easy it was! All up, it probably took me about 2 hours to put together (which isn’t bad for a multi-layer cake with four different elements), and mum was absolutely thrilled, so it was definitely worth the effort.
If you’ve never had an Opéra cake before, let me explain it to you. The cake is constructed from layers of almond sponge that have been soaked in coffee syrup. These layers are topped with chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream, and then sandwiched together to create a long rectangular cake. Traditionally, a joconde sponge is used for the cake component, but in this version I’ve simply made a basic almond cake, which is quicker and easier to make. I’ve also simplified the coffee syrup element (which would traditionally be made in a pot on the stove) by mixing instant coffee granules, sugar, and hot water. These modifications save significant time and effort, and help to make the cake less of a hassle for the baker (aka me).
Coffee-lovers will adore this cake, as the espresso flavour really comes through, and is complemented by the richness of the chocolate ganache. The sponge manages to remain nice and moist, thanks to both the almond meal and the coffee syrup it’s been soaked in. As a result, the cake lasts several days without losing it’s form or texture (although if you can make it last more than two days, you clearly have more self-control than my family…).
Don’t be put off by how many steps there are in this recipe – it’s really very doable! And the end result is utterly delicious, so I would highly encourage you to have a go. Leave me a note in the comments and let me know what you thought!